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by Laura Fox
on April 03, 2020

Effective Executive Communications During a Crisis

In times of crisis, it’s imperative that executives speak thoughtfully and strategically to employees. Leverage these pointers when developing your internal communication plans during periods of emergency.
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1. Talk to your people before communicating outside

Many companies engage a PR agency to assist with crisis communications, which can be helpful in getting ahead of bad news. But oftentimes these companies make the mistake of not informing their people first and controlling the message from the inside. You will lose the trust and confidence of your workforce if they hear an update from the news instead of directly from you. 

2. Be transparent 

If you can, open the books and be transparent with your employees. Let employees know what the crisis means for you personally, your company, your financials and your customers. Let them know what you expect could happen. Be clear about what you are doing to respond to the situation (cutting your own pay, reprioritizing projects or goals, making cuts, etc.). 

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3. Convey empathy

Leaders should be empathetic in all engagements, recognizing the challenging times that employees are experiencing. Be personal - show what you and your family are doing in crisis. It’s important that you show your human side, being modest and engaging on a person-to-person level. This will help the group remember that they are part of a team and that you are committed to overcoming these struggles together.

4. Be a beacon of confidence

Demonstrate the company’s plan for navigating the changing times, and show how leaders are actively working toward plan goals. Communicating and modeling the go-forward actions that the company will proactively take will help to build confidence.

5. Check in regularly through video chat

Even daily video check-ins can help recalibrate a team mindset. Individuals crave personal interaction and everyone tends to deal with stress and anxiety of crisis situations differently. Checking in “live” and being especially visible during crisis helps maintain and build connections, while making misunderstandings less likely.

6. Offer helpful resources

Help alleviate stressors that employees are feeling by offering resources. This could include grief coping mechanisms, employee assistance programs, preventative info or activity ideas for occupying employees’ children who may be home. Lend a helping hand for employees to overcome specific challenges that they might be facing.

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7. Focus on positivity and mindfulness

Instead of getting swept up in fear and anxiety, refocus company chat channels and meetings to hone in on positivity. Ask employees to answer a simple question each day like, “What are you grateful for?” Doing so can foster a positive mindset for employees and the team. In addition, encourage daily meditation to clear the noise. Our team likes using guided meditation apps like Headspace or Calm to refocus. 

8. Before making cuts, ask for volunteers

If the need arises to cut hours or salaries, ask for volunteers prior to acting. Be open about the company’s current financial position, recognizing that there may be employees who are overwhelmed with competing priorities (family, work, health etc.) and may therefore be receptive to taking a step back.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be on the right track toward positioning leaders at your company to effectively communicate with employees during crises. 

If you’d like a free video consultation of an upcoming executive communication, feel free to reach out. Or, for more helpful resources in crisis, subscribe to our newsletter using the form below.